The heart of this kit is the Swarm M138 satellite modem, which is a Mini-PCI Express Card that houses both the satellite modem and a highly efficient GNSS receiver. This modem can operate from a wide range of supply voltages from 3.0V to 5.0V. The standard 3.3V CMOS serial UART interface and NMEA-style command set make it simple to integrate into your project. The board comes with both a USB-C interface and a full set of breakout pins for power and/or serial data.
The modem features two u.FL antenna connections, one marked "VHF" for the Very High Frequency signal used to communicate with the Swarm satellites, and a separate one for satellite navigation marked "GPS". You have the option to connect the provided antennas directly to the modem or use the included 25mm u.FL cables to connect the modem to the robust SMA connections on the Breakout.
The Swarm antenna is a purpose-designed coiled quarter-wave antenna tuned to the Swarm satellite frequencies. A ground plane is required for the antenna, and one is included in the kit. The antenna can be secured to a 5.08cm or 3.81cm antenna pole, a camera tripod, or a handrail using the provided mounting holes.
Each Swarm modem requires a data plan to send and receive data. The cost of this data plan is significantly lower than other networks. An annual contract costs USD $60 per year (USD $5 per month) and includes 750 data packets per month. Each packet can be up to 192 Bytes in size. Please refer to the 'Registering Your Swarm M138 Modem' guide for full details.
Swarm provides global coverage over all regions, but there are regulatory restrictions for specific countries. The current list of approved countries/regions for the M138 Modem includes USA, Antarctica, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Georgia, Germany, Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, New Zealand, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom, and International Waters (12 nautical miles offshore). Swarm is continuously expanding this list of approved countries. Customers will receive regular updates on approved regions through the Swarm newsletter.
The SparkFun Swarm M138 Satellite Transceiver Kit includes the Swarm M138 Modem, SparkFun Satellite Transceiver Breakout, Swarm VHF Antenna, u.FL - SMA Adapter, SparkFun Antenna Ground Plane (PCB, 20.32cm x 20.32cm), Molex adhesive GNSS Antenna (u.FL), 2x u.FL to u.FL cables, and 2x M2.5 Screws.
The features of the kit include PCB Dimensions (with modem attached) of 8.9cm x 3.6cm x 0.95cm, separate, robust connectors for VHF satellite communication and GPS/GNSS positioning, a USB-C via a CH340E USB-serial converter, 3.3V UART via 2.54mm breakout pins, power supply of 3.0V (Min) to 5.0V (Max), and current draw at 3.3V and 5.0V for sleep, receive, and transmit modes. Please note that when powering the board from USB, a USB-C or USB 3 port should be used as USB 2.0 is not supported.
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